• Jason Noble
  • Mon July 15 2013
  • Posted Jul 15, 2013

When the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa pedals through Des Moines next Tuesday, riders will have a great chance to get a history lesson along with their pork chops and pies.

On Friday, the State Historical Museum of Iowa is opening “Riding Through History,” a new exhibit on cycling in Iowa that digs deeply into the history and hijinks of the statewide event, now in its 41st year.

The 3,000-square-foot exhibit features dozens of bicycles hanging from the rafters, old jerseys, helmets, aprons, pancake spatulas, massive pies and more – a condensed, curated, air-conditioned version of the 450-mile annual party that brings thousands of visitors and millions of tourist dollars to the state each year.

One highlight is a journal kept by a rider on SAGBRAI – that is, the Second Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – which, among other entries, describes $13.62 in “total food expen.” for the entire week’s ride. Another is the Styrofoam pith helmet worn by Clarence Pickard, who rode the entire road in wool clothes at 83 years old.

The exhibit opens Friday. On Tuesday, as RAGBRAI riders pass through Des Moines, the museum will host Pedalpalooza, a day-long festival to celebrate the ride.

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